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  • Writer's pictureEugenia Sestini

A flash of inspiration

Writing and Photography

I’m still impressed about cameras and how they work. That the click of a button can bring the outside world into a small rectangular device is mind-boggling to me.

Photographs can capture a special moment. When you look at a picture, it may elicit sweet memories (or not so sweet ones sometimes). While we can stop time with a picture by capturing a specific moment, we can use our memory or our imagination to build a story around it.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, an influential French photographer who documented notable events in history and was considered the master of candid photography, reportedly told his wife that “anyone with a camera is a photographer”.

We live in a world dominated by the visual – over one billion people use Instagram, YouTube has over 1.5 billion users. The rise of social media and the use of digital cameras (especially phone cameras) have changed the way we document our life.

This week, London-based American photographer Mark Weeks shares some insights:

“What makes a great photo? A photo can be great because it captures a moment, an expression or a mood. When a photographer creates a great photo, a lot of thought goes into all of these elements, but when looking at some of the greatest photos, people often comment about the light used in the shot. While our eyes are drawn to the bright parts of the photo, what really separates a great photo from a good photo is how the photographer has chosen use the light to create shadows.

When used right, shadows in a photo can create a sense of mystery. Adding a bit of movement to the photo also can create interest and make the viewer wonder, hmmm…what is this about?”

Mark has included an exercise below. 

People seem to be constantly hungry for something to watch, so how can we take these images and turn them into a story?

If anyone can be a photographer, surely your child can be one too! Nowadays not everyone may have a camera, as more people than ever before are relying on their phone to take pictures or make videos. This week’s exercise involves taking out a camera or a phone and letting your children take a few pictures. Afterwards, look at the pictures together, choose your favorite ones (aim for a maximum of five, though sometimes one or two photos can be enough), and see if you can tell a story with them.

If you don’t have a camera, you can also go through the many pictures I have uploaded to the section One picture, lots of words.

Grab your camera!

If your little writers are interested in photography, Mark suggests the following experiment:

Put an apple on a table. Take a photo of it. Then take a lamp or a flashlight and point it at the side of the apple (you might have to lay the lamp on its side so that the bulb is pointing to the apple). The light from the lamp should create a bright spot on one side of the apple and the other side of the apple should in shadows. Take another photo of the apple (making sure to keep the lamp out of the photo). Compare the two photos. Does the shadow add anything to the photo? Try moving the lamp around to find the place you think it looks the best. Take another photo. 

Now… take a bite out of the apple and place it back in the same spot. Point the bite side towards the light. Take a photo. Now turn the apple so that the bite bit is still visible, but is just in the shadows. Take another shot. Look at all the photos of the apple and decide which one you like best. Drop us some examples of your apple photos along with any notes you might have.

Once you’ve tried an apple, try other things — a teddy bear, a toy car, a person… the sky is the limit!

Happy Writing!

A big thank you to Mark Weeks!

Mark creates images of people, places and still life scenes for businesses. Working with clients in the corporate sector, high street brands and advertising clients, Mark works from the brief and creates images that inspire.

Born and raised in the US, Mark has lived in Taipei, Amsterdam and has found his home in London. He understands how people tick and captures them at their best.

Mark lives in London with his partner Lee and their children and works both in London and the US.

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